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EDITORIAL: The environmentalist war on green energy supplies

Environmentalists keep making it harder and more expensive to produce electric cars. The irony is rich.

One of the big-ticket items in the comically misnamed Inflation Reduction Act was an expansion of handouts for electric vehicles. There’s a $7,500 tax credit for light-duty EV purchases. There are even subsidies for used and commercial EVs. Also, there’s money to boost the number of charging stations and to obtain electric vehicles for the Postal Service.

This fits in with President Joe Biden’s goal that 50 percent of new cars be electric by 2030. California has gone even further. State regulators banned the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. In 2026, 35 percent of new sales must be electric. In the first half of 2022, 16.5 percent of new vehicle sales in California were zero emission.

These initiatives are part of a decadeslong push by green alarmists to reduce world carbon emissions, which have declined in rich countries. They’ve soared, however, in developing nations, specifically China, which is busy building coal power plants.

But leave aside the futility of this spending when it comes to lowering global temperatures. The environmentalist lobby has issued a clear demand — more electric vehicles.

That will require more car batteries. Those batteries depend upon a number of rare metals, including lithium. Last year, the International Energy Agency found that meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement would astronomically boost the demand for lithium by 2040.

Obtaining lithium is a complex process. It’s found only in certain areas. One of those areas is in Northern Nevada, where the Thacker Pass lithium mine is planned for Humboldt County. It would be a boon for electric vehicle production. The mining operation could endure for decades, eventually supplying enough lithium to meet a quarter of world demand. The Bureau of Land Management gave approval to the mine just before Donald Trump left office.

But the project is stuck in legal limbo. It’s facing opposition from environmentalists and their allies, who keep suing to stop the mine.

Green activists erected their latest hurdle earlier this month when the Western Watersheds Project filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of a small snail found near the proposed mine. The group wants the gastropod protected under the Endangered Species Act. If that happens, it will further delay or even scuttle the lithium mining project.

Environmental groups can’t have it both ways. If the country is to move toward renewable energy, which would include cleaner automobiles, they must accept that this requires energy and mining projects necessary to make it happen. Or is the agenda actually to limit energy use, green or otherwise, thus impoverishing millions of Americans?

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